Hockey is back! Hockey is back! Thank the heavens and stars above us, hockey is back!
With the wonderful news on Sunday morning that the owners and players' union had reached a tentative agreement, pending ratification, and that the NHL lockout was over, there was much joy to be had in the hockey world.
But just because hockey is returning doesn't mean that all of the league's superstars will be ready to go once the season begins. From players still recovering from injuries last season to bumps and bruises acquired overseas, a few players might be on the shelf to start the year.
Be sure to keep it here for updates on any player injuries heading into the new season.
Nicklas Backstrom missed 40 games with a concussion last season, and it appears that his 2013 season is in just as much doubt.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 11:30 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
As teams across the NHL prepare for the ratification of the new CBA and the opening of training camp, the Washington Capitals are already dealing with injury issues.
Star center Nick Backstrom has been dealing with a neck injury he suffered playing overseas, and the team now confirms he’ll see a specialist immediately, according to RussianMachineNeverBreaks.com:
Nick and his agent informed us that they are being proactive with his injury and decided to visit a specialist prior to training camp. Obviously, as you know until camp officially starts teams cannot perform physicals on any player.
---End of Update---
According to the Washington Post's Katie Carrera, the status of the Swedish center, who suffered a neck injury while playing with Dynamo Moscow in late December, is currently up in the air:
As 10 of his teammates skated at KCI Tuesday morning, Nicklas Backstrom watched part of the workout from the stick room hallway, clad in a winter coat and toque. The Swedish center’s health is one of the biggest questions facing the Capitals heading into a shortened season, and just days away from the start of training camp, Backstrom’s status remains uncertain.
Carrera also notes that because Backstrom suffered his injury during the lockout, the Caps won't have to pay his contract if he isn't medically cleared before the start of training camp.
UPDATE: Monday, January 7 at 12:50 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
Briere has a sprained left wrist + bone bruise. He told me it's not serious +, at most, he'll miss 2 games. He hopes to be ready for opener.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) January 7, 2013
Briere will have visit a hand specialist this week. He says hecould miss a game or 2 at most, but is hoping to be ready for opener.#Flyers
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) January 7, 2013
---End of Update---
Danny Briere injured his wrist last week while playing overseas in Germany. It was expected the star forward would miss two-to-three weeks with the injury, though he is now back in the States and will have the wrist checked out.
Danny Briere, via text message, says he just got back from Europe. He is happy about the news and will get his wrist checked out this week.— Frank Seravalli (@DNFlyers) January 6, 2013
I would expect to see Briere return to action in time for the start of the season.
Good news on the Marian Gaborik front, New York Rangers' fans—head coach John Tortorella says he will be good to go to open the season.
Torts says Gaborik is good to go from Day 1 of Training Camp. "He'll be fine, he's been fine."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) January 7, 2013
Gaborik had surgery on a torn labrum this summer, but it looks like he's on schedule to return for the league's lockout-shortened season.
Don't expect to see Flyers defensemen Andrej Meszaros to start the season.
Meszaros is NOT certain he will start season. Says having trouble start/stop and push off. Sees doc today. Hesitation there— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) January 7, 2013
Meszaros: "Sometimes, I am really sore and I can’t push off. I’m still weak [in heel]. It’s a matter of time before I get my strength back"— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) January 7, 2013
The Flyers are already without Chris Pronger. Without Meszaros, the team will be vulnerable defensively.
The Montreal Canadiens got some tough news ahead of the start of the season, learning star center Tomas Plekanec may be out of action for the first week or so.
The Montreal Canadiens might have to start training camp without top center Tomas Plekanec, who suffered what the Montreal Gazette reported to be an upper-body injury in late December while playing for Kladno in the Czech Republic.
"It's nothing serious," Plekanec told the newspaper. "I should be playing in a week, 10 days maximum. Maybe quicker when I get proper treatment."
Thankfully, Plekanec's absence looks to be a limited one. His 52 points from a year ago and presence at center will be missed while he's gone.
For many of the NHL players, the lockout represented a chance to play overseas or perhaps earn an extended vacation.
For Jonathan Quick, it was something quite different—an opportunity to recover from an injury and likely miss no actual playing time this season.
Quick had back surgery in August, initially thought to be a minor procedure that would keep him out of any action for about six weeks. Now, he'll check with doctors in Los Angeles to make sure he's cleared for game action once the NHL season returns.
From Craig Custance of ESPN:
Jonathan Quick heading to LA tomorrow to have his back examined by doctors in hopes of getting cleared medically.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) January 2, 2013
If Quick does miss any time, the Los Angeles Kings have a more-than-capable backup in Jonathan Bernier.
While Jonathan Quick is likely to get cleared to play for the Los Angeles Kings, center Anze Kopitar will likely be sidelined for a few weeks after suffering a recent injury.
Kings center Anze Kopitar injured his right knee Saturday while playing for Mora IK of Sweden's Allsvenskan hockey league but preliminary indications were that it's not serious and is not likely to keep him out for more than two to three weeks.
"It's nothing to be alarmed with," Kopitar's agent, Pat Brisson, said by phone.
Brisson said more would be known after Kopitar undergoes tests in the next day or two. Brisson said he had spoken to Kopitar, whom he described as "in good spirits" and not fearful that the injury would prove to be long term.
Kopitar scored 25 goals and tallied 51 assists last season, so his presence will definitely be missed in his absence.
Ryan Kesler has had a busy offseason, at least in terms of surgeries. In May, it was left shoulder surgery. In June, it was surgery on his left wrist.
And according to his agent, Kurt Overhardt, he likely won't be ready once the season resumes (via Craig Custance of ESPN Insider):
"If the season was starting today, there's no way he'd be prepared to play," Overhardt said when we chatted on Wednesday evening. Part of the issue is that the surgeries involved the same side of his body, which has made recovery more of a challenge. Plus, he's learned not to rush back from injuries, especially considering his style of play.
"Because of the compound nature of getting his shoulder and his wrist operated on in the same side of his body, that interferes in having the ability to rehab one or the other," Overhardt said. "But both surgeries were positive structurally."
Hopefully Kesler won't miss too much time once league play resumes. The NHL could use one of its top two-way stars during the shortened season.
More good news for Philadelphia Flyers fans, as Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Wednesday that "Claude Giroux, who suffered a neck injury playing in Germany, would be ready to play if the season started Jan. 19, GM Paul Holmgren said."
Giroux is one of the league's brightest young stars, so having him ready in time for the season is a major plus for the Flyers and the league.